New Mexico has more UNESCO Sites than any other state, which is pretty impressive when you understand the combination of natural phenomenon and cultural importance that must occur to create a site worthy of the UNESCO designation.
In 1972, several international bodies united to create the World Heritage Convention. An agreement was drawn up to outline how co-operatively, we can protect international areas of ‘outstanding universal value’ (as stated in the Convention). It is administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Areas throughout the world are deemed UNESCO World Heritage Sites if they have significant cultural or physical properties on an international level. UNESCO Sites are chosen because they preserve historic, cultural and natural phenomenon. But only countries that are signed to the World Heritage Convention can register a site to the World Heritage Directory.
The USA has a total of 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites at various locations around the country, but no other state has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than New Mexico.
The 3 Sites of New Mexico
Chaco Culture National Historic Park
The Chaco Culture National Historic Park was developed around an area that the Pueblo peoples occupied for over 2,000 years. At its center was Chaco, a hub used for ceremonies, community functions and commerce from the years 850 to 1250 AD.
Today, the monuments and buildings, which are constructed in the distinctive Pueblo architecture, remain in the Park. Chaco contains the Aztec Ruins National Monument as part of its World Heritage listing.
The landscape in the Park area consists of a plateau mesa and the remains of an ancient inland sea. The Park is ecologically significant as it is one of the few protected land masses in the San Juan Basin.
Ongoing scientific research meshes with anthropological studies around the Park. Prevalent in the surrounding woodlands, scrub, and riparian ecosystems, visitors are apt to see deer, bobcats, reptiles and birds.
Chaco is surrounded by the nearby towns of Bloomfield, Aztec, and Farmington. Albuquerque is about a 3-hour commute from the site, which makes a day trip viable if you are staying in the state’s capital city.
Taos Pueblo is an Indian settlement located in northern New Mexico. The entire site contains ceremonial buildings, community facilities, and large adobe dwellings of several stories, each with terraces.
The site exemplifies the living culture of a present-day Pueblo Indian tribe at Taos Pueblo. This is one of the only existing examples of the 13th and early 14th century settlements that occurred in the valley of the Rio Grande River. In addition to its role as a UNESCO Site, Taos Pueblo is also a National Historical Landmark.